NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – There was two disasters at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School over the last two days.
“I walked out of my office after we were told there was a fire in our horticulture building so I stepped out and saw the flames across campus. I knew it was pretty serious,” said Superintendent Andrew Linkenhoken.
A two alarm fire Monday afternoon in one of the agricultural buildings. However, the emergency was not the first for this school community. Staff had already spent the same morning recovering from damage to another building’s roof caused by strong winds and thunderstorms Sunday evening.
“Things happen. Our staff stepped up, our student stepped up, the community is stepping up with support,” said Linkenhoken.
The Department of Fire Services said the cause of the fire was accidental and likely started by a hot exhaust pipe of a lawnmower coming in contact with combustible material.
“Now that we’re in yardwork season, this incident is a good reminder that lawnmowers and other gasoline-powered machinery can get hot enough to start a fire,” said Northampton Fire Chief Jon Davine. “The combination of high temperatures and flammable vapors make fire safety a priority when using lawnmowers, chainsaws, and power equipment.”
Amid roof damage and fire, classes were moved to alternative spaces and remained in session both Monday and Tuesday. As learning continued, electrical companies assed fire damage and contractors worked to remove the dangerous sections of roof.
Superintendent Linkenhoken told 22News the building with damage to the roof would likely be up and running by Tuesday afternoon. Allowing the school to safely move student’s back to that set of classrooms. No one was injured in either incident.
“All our animals, we have a farm here, all the animals were safe, our staff was able to move them out of harms way,” said Linkenhoken. He also said the chain of events proves how resilient the community is, “Just seeing the good in people, in time of crisis.”